Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And What About - Naomi?

Today's high drama: Will she have enough yarn or will she be forced to make the dreaded dye-lot decision?

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to today's -

Adventures With the Project That Must Not Be Named!*

*Title courtesy of Clare, who reads her mother's blog on occasion.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Knitting the Horse I Fell Off Of

You won't believe what I've cast on for (glutton for punishment). I've railed and ranted about them (I must be out of my mind). I've even given these a very rude sobriquet (Ha, Diane, make game of my erudite vocabulary in the comments, will you?). I'm noticing a distinctly negative trend in the my thinking as I knit (I loathe and despise dpn's).

Rather than boil my blood or pop a vein, in lieu of climbing the walls, spitting nails or chewing tacks, and on the theory that all is fair in love and war, I have decided to channel the encouragement conferred on the Lord Chancellor by the Lords Ararat and Tolloller. Said advice I have, out of the goodness and kindness of my heart, decided to share with you.

"If you go in
You're sure to win –
Yours will be the charming maidie:
Be your law
The ancient saw,
"Faint heart never won fair lady!"

Never, never, never,
"Faint heart never won fair lady!"

Every journey has an end –
When at the worst affairs will mend –
Dark the dawn when day is nigh –
Hustle your horse and don't say die!

He who shies
At such a prize
Is not worth a maravedi,
Be so kind
To bear in mind –
"Faint heart never won fair lady!"


While the sun shines make your hay –
Where a will is, there's a way –
Beard the lion in his lair –
None but the brave deserve the fair!

I'll take heart
And make a start –
Though I fear the prospect's shady –
Much I'd spend
To gain my end –
"Faint heart never won fair lady!"


Nothing venture, nothing win –
Blood is thick, but water's thin –
In for a penny, in for a pound –
It's Love that makes the world go round!

Nothing venture, nothing win –
Blood is thick, but water's thin –
In for a penny, in for a pound –
It's Love that makes the world go round!"*

I'm really only doing this because I can't bear to waste the yarn.

*Gilbert, William S. and Sullivan, Arthur. Iolanthe, Act 2

Monday, October 29, 2007

Petticoats and Ascots

I will admit to second thoughts. While fresh from the triumph of turning 32 into 115, I thought to power through the rest of the Huckleberry Ascot. Then I got the first bobbles made.

Did I say second thoughts? Hell, serious reconsideration. Who would want a scarf with these odd little excrescences? It was a time of taking deep breaths and trusting the designer, all the while maintaining a sotto voce stream of commentary - very little of it complimentary.

I was not prepared for the transformation wrought by binding off. This little ruffle appears all of a sudden, instead of these - protrusions. It makes me think of crinolines. I was charmed. But then what did I know?

I ran it through some market testing. At a Family Gathering last night, I cornered my sister and my mother. Now that I have their approval, I'm willing to consider multiplying. Admittedly, my mother thought I should make one in Pink, but this is supposed to sell in Hyde Park, where different and dowdy is a way of life, practically a calling. Besides, the yarn doesn't come in pink. (I think perhaps Blue Sky Alpacas couldn't come up with an attractive sounding food name. I can't imagine "Medium-Rare Tenderloin" would get many buyers.)

So, this is what I got. A kind of ugly yellow that is rather pretty on very close inspection, but who's going to want to get close enough (Dijon)? A dark kind of dismal green (Pesto). The grey (Licorice) and the red (Salsa) which is grossly misrepresented, but when I correct for the red, all the other colors skew.

I've pretty much decided to go with the red for the second ascot. Now I need to decide if I need a third. I'm thinking one of the darker colors, if nothing else to set off the other two.

I can make bobbles into petticoats. Who'd have thought?

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Get a Job, Get a Life, Get a PhD. . ."

There hasn't been any deliberate, meaningless silliness here for a while. This unacceptable state of affairs shall be rectified herewith.

I hear the call of the wild bobble. I'm off to turn another 32 stitches into 115.

As soon I download this onto my iPod.

Edited to add: Yup. Definitely worth the $1.99 to iTunes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If It Seems Too Good to be True

It probably is.

Yesterday's pick was the Huckleberry Ascot. I rationalized that I'm going to need multiples of it. Teachers (assuming it passes muster). Christmas Bazaar (which will just get more if the scarf doesn't pass teacher muster). Possible gifts for female relatives. Since I know my attention span will never stand up to knitting sequential scarves from the same pattern, I thought I'd spend the rest of the week knitting up this first one, then take a break and turn my attention to other projects - like my Saturday Slippers.

My initial reaction was stunned disbelief. I never knit anything this easily. I never knit anything easily, period. There are definite masochistic overtones to my choice of hobby and projects. Yet, there I was this morning, with the base of the scarf done and fantasies of churning these out by the dozen. All my short rows co-operated. I didn't loose track of where I was. The pattern was fun. Then I came to this direction: "pick up and knit 115 stitches along the short, flared edge." From these 32 stitches.

Now, I may have complicated this with my habit of slipping the first stitch purl-wise. But I know how to pick up stitches, from stitches or rows. I'll even do the math to make sure the number of stitches the designer asks for are distributed evenly over the foundation stitches. What I apparently don't know how to do is increase from 32 rows to 115 stitches. I tried pulling up multiple yarn-overs. Sounds fine until you try to knit into them and they have nothing to hold onto. I tried knitting into both legs of the slipped stitches, which turned them into huge, horribly distorted parodies of themselves. I checked The Knitting Answer Book. I looked into Knitting in Plain English. I paged through the stitch guides at the end of Interweave Holiday Knits. There was plenty of information on how to pick up fewer stitches. Nothing on how to pick up more.

It may be that I'm suffering from an annoying compulsion to wake up at 4:30 AM these days, but I could not figure this out. It surely sounded like the designer meant me end up with 115 stitches on my pick up row. I just couldn't for the life of me figure out to get there from here.

Should any of you be at the same skill level in your knitting that I am, let me share what I did when I finally gave up. I picked up 32 stitches. Into those 32 stitches I worked a series of variations of KFB. To get from 32 to 115 I worked out a pattern of 1 3 4 4 4 3 *4 4 4 4 3* repeating the pattern between the asterisks until I K1 into the last stitch, where 1 = K1, 4 = KFBFB and 3 = KFBF. It worked. At least I'm pretty sure it did. I have 115 stitches across the end of my scarf, and I'm pretty sure I followed my own directions. I could be wrong of course.

This, by the way, is how far one skein of Blue Sky Alpaca Melange will take you.

If there's an easier way, please let me know. Just not for a few days. Maybe next week. Or the week after. Just before I start the next one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Embarrassment of Riches

As a general rule, I have a hard time finding a new project to fill the void left by a finished object. Not so this time. Waiting in the wings is, of course, my knobby-kneed friend, Art. I've decided Art needs to be a Bay. Unfortunately, when I got to Knitche yesterday, I found I had written my "Buying Guide For Art" on a list other than the one I put in my pocket. A blessing in disguise, as it turns out, since I would have bought DK or sport-weight yarn (because the "basic horse pattern" in the book calls for UK DK/US light worsted). In my frustration, I pored over the mustang pattern last night. He is knit from Rowan Summer Tweed, which, according to Rowan, is aran weight. Still, Art will have to wait for the Rowan Kid Classic I ordered last night to arrive.

In the middle of yesterday's frustration, i.e. while standing in front of the super-wash wools and feeling stupid and annoyed, I picked up some more Baby Ull. There's a thought of matching Stupid Booties for the BSJ flitting around my head. Well, more than flitting around, since I've bought yarn, right? Besides, I clearly have a demon to exorcise with the booties.

Nope. I have no idea where the blue and green came from.

Then there are my knitting shoes - which, despite their tepid reception here, I still love and for which I have the yarn.

Or, in the Interweave Holiday Knits is a pattern for a small scarf using a mere 2 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Melange. Since I bought enough of this don't cheap out for charity yarn to make this year's 78 inch striped Red Scarf, I need a pattern like this badly. I have, well, let's see. Is that 4 skeins of Huckleberry (or 6?), and 2 skeins of Pesto, and there's some Salsa in there and hmm, some Dijon and . . . never mind. I have enough.

I feel teacher gifts (I still owe Marco* for modelling last year's Red Scarf) and Christmas Bazaar knitting in my future.

Maybe I'll just put the names of all the projects into a hat and see what I pull out?

*Linked because October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

In the "nothing hard is ever easy" category, I did a fair bit of noodling with the seams of the BSJ this weekend, even once I decided I wanted to join them with a three-needle bind-off.

First try, picked up loops to the inside of the garment, using yarn to match the ground stitches. Bound off with right sides facing/wrong side out.


Second try. Better, much better. Picked up loops to the outside of the garment, using yarn to match the ground stitches. Bound off with wrong sides together/right sides facing out.

Except I don't like that little grey line running through,

Last try, same method as above, picking up all the stitches using the contrast color.

Hey presto, indeed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

And I Quote

"Funny-looking object, isn't it?"

"Hey, presto, eureka, and lo --

a baby sweater!"

"Knit, and keep calm, Elizabeth."

All quotations taken from the written instructions that accompany the DVD "Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket with Meg Swansen" (scroll down).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Crow for Breakfast

And lunch. And dinner.

I have this habit of actually reading the comments. Sometimes I even go back and re-read them. Erica wrote that Ravelry was testing photo sources other than Flickr and directed me to the forums and "beta phototesting." I thought I was going to get away scot-free, since it sounded like the testing was for sources (web albums? whatevers?) other than Picasa. And even if it wasn't, they only wanted a limited number of people and the testing had started months ago. Being the thorough sort, and feeling reasonably sure that the answer would absolve me from posting pictures to Ravelry for months, I posted to the forum. The forum response directed me to a testing group, which sent me to email, which showed me a way to actually contribute to Ravelry.

Guess what? I'm a real beta tester. They are working on supporting other photo sources, and I am now officially enabled. I can't compare it to Flickr, since I have no experience with Flickr and don't intend to, but it works just fine for me. Good thing I'd started my Picasa web album.

Sigh. I liked it when I could duck responsibility. I'm up to all of 5 real projects now, but at least there are pictures. I don't expect I will be any less lacksadaisical or contrary, but I might be a smidge less dubious and resistant.

What's it like to have to eat crow?

Eh. Not so bad. Tastes like chicken.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In Which Lightening Strikes Twice

I have this vision. In my imagination I knit along, counting all my stitches correctly, picking up the occasional dropped stitch quickly and with ease, transitioning through a pattern with grace. Serene. Competent. The opposite of frazzled and frustrated. No berating myself. No calling myself names. No muttered cursing. The Baby Surprise jacket is not going to be the project that sees that vision fulfilled.

I could learn to dislike my learning curve. It's attacked the Baby Surprise Jacket. Or the Baby Surprise Jacket attacked it. Again. Corresponding place, same type of error. When I was decreasing, I shifted my diagonal to the right. Now that I'm increasing, I've shifted it to the left. My frustration is your learning opportunity. This time I remembered to take pictures.

The original mistake.

The repair in progress, with the second set of needles in place and multiple coil-less pins managing the various ladders.

Which eventually leads to ta-da and merrily I roll along.

We'll ignore the first repair that left me with yarn stretched to its limit and 3 more stitches than I should have had. We won't discuss the awakening of my competitive instinct when Diane came by for coffee with a completed BSJ while I was grinding my teeth over having to put my newly learned skill into practice way before I wanted to. We'll just keep clinging to that vision, once the after-image from the lightning has cleared.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Little Comeuppance Is Good For Me

Well. Goodness. That was exciting.

I had a whole post written, from the foxhole in which I was cowering, in defense of yesterday's post. Then I poked my head out and realized that, except for apologizing to Renee -- who is not a mystery, just a better lurker than I am -- I was probably making a mountain out of a molehill. (Hmm. Is it better to mix your metaphor, or should I have extended it?).
Instead, here's a response to Diane's comment about my closet.

What makes you think there's yarn in there?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bad Beta Tester. Bad, Bad!

I got my invite to the big Ravelry Party last month. It's nice. I guess.

I must be the most lacksadaisical Raveler out there. I keep forgetting my user ID and password. I keep forgetting to bookmark Ravelry. I keep forgetting to post a link to it on the blog. I have posted all of 4 Finished Objects, though right now it looks like 5 because I seem to have duplicated when I thought I was over-writing and I can't find anything on how to delete a project. I assume at some point I will find the Search function, but until then, oh well.

Perhaps I am the most contrary Raveler. I have a picture-less "notebook" because there is no way, with Picasa, Blogger and my hard-drive already loaded, that I am going to set up another picture source and Ravelry will only take pictures from Flickr. I'll beta test when they're ready to support the other online photo organizers. Besides, there are pictures all over the place right here.

I am a resistant Raveler. It's all I can do to post here 3 or 4 times a week. Do I really want to duplicate this past year or so on another website? I question that you really need to see pictures of my stash and it's complete lack of organization. What? You think you do? Oh, fine. This entry needs a picture anyway. Here's some of it.

I know I'm a somewhat dubious Raveler. I've been "friended" by one person, a complete stranger from Michigan. Someone who, as far as I can tell, doesn't read this blog, which, frankly, strikes me as sort of odd.

I suspect I am simply a bad Raveler. I don't know what I was thinking. It must have been the peer pressure. Everybody posting about whether or not they'd gotten their invitations. Everyone speculating about their position in the queue. All the rabid creating and updating of Flickr accounts. I added my email to the list while temporarily deranged by all the Ravelry pheromones. I figured I'd get invited in, oh, January. Maybe. Or not.

Ravelry is something that, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, and there I am: lacksadaisical, contrary, resistant, dubious, bad.

I should have waited for it to go public.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Get Out Your Knitting Shoes

The good news is I finished the Red Scarf. A quick trip to Starbucks for a gift card (because everybody needs a treat, right?) and I was all set.

All packed up and shipped off via UPS thanks to the local Office Depot.

The bad new is, we didn't manage to pull off apple-picking.

The good news is, I got to spend some time with that engineering phenomenon known as the Baby Surprise Jacket. Supposedly, one will get comfortable after a while and leave the safety pins behind. Not this knitter. Second shipwrecks and all that. It looks so much better when the nice diagonal lines aren't crooked like lighting bolts.

Oh. Umm. I may have spent some time online ordering yarn for these from The Knitting Man(ual).

The members of the male persuasion may have rejected them, but that doesn't mean I can't make a pair for me. The pattern calls for double stranding Lamb's Pride worsted. The KM versions shown here are purple (right) and purple and brown (left). They also suggest making a pair in pink and red.

Mine will be made in a lovely, sedate combination of Onyx and Sable.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Plunkitt Would Be Proud of Me

How do you know if you've chosen the right bribe?

It works.

We're going apple-picking tomorrow.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's the Weather

When I was little, we used to go apple picking at Bell's Apple Orchard in northern Illinois. There's a picture here. It seemed as far away as forever then. The reward for the trip was bushels of apples, home-made cinnamon-sugared cider donuts, and maple sugar candy. Once I had children, it was given that Bell's would be the destination of their apple-picking odysseys.

It's gone now. Has been gone for years. Surrendered to the north-suburban housing development boom. Where the giant apple used to tower are rows and rows of houses.

It had been so hot this late summer/early fall that I had forgotten about apples and apple picking.

The last few days, however, have been real fall. The kind of days that make you think that not only would turning on the oven be bearable, it might be a damn good idea. One of the staples of post-apple-picking fall was apple pie.

I have strong opinions about baking apples; Jonathans are the best. Since Jonathans were usually ripe by late September, it's too late to lament the lack of apple-picking this year. Rather than wallow in the wasteland of nostalgia, it occurred to me that with a trip to the grocery store, I could get the smell of baking apples back. I admit to some chagrin that the only Jonathan apples they had were pre-packed and roughly the size of a golf ball. Spurred on by thoughts of cinnamon I can, however, be brave and daring. We'll see what "Jonagolds" can do.

I have my motivation and reward for finishing the Red Scarf ready to go.

I'll weave in the ends while it bakes.

Maybe it's not too late to go apple-picking this year. Maybe the Jonathans ripen later in Indiana.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Everything Comes To Those Who Wait

Now I know why I don't participate in swaps. Guess what I spent the day doing? Not knitting, I can tell you that.

I had planned to make it to Nana's 2nd Anniversary Sale. I didn't do that either.

While Meg's Sea Silk still isn't in (Vicki will call Fleece Artist today, I hope to have word tomorrow), it's gotten to the point where I just can't hold back the rest of the prizes. Or the cake.

Let it be known that I have managed to haul my apparently semi-agoraphobic self out to someplace other than a yarn store. These went out UPS this afternoon.

Speaking of cake, if either Brandy or Bobbi want theirs, they need to let me know where to send it. (Email me. It's there. In the sidebar.) Soon. I'm on a roll here. Otherwise you may not get them before Christmas.

This last, lone, lorn cake will go to the cake non-recipient (non-cake-recipient?) who comments first. Note that that's not to the first person to comment, but to the first person who missed cake the first time around.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Having equated Red Scarf with October 15, I set myself the arbitrary deadline of finishing the scarf today so I could ship it tomorrow. While this left no time for blogging, somewhere amid all the determined knitting, I snuck over to the OFA website. With hope nascent I went to visit Norma's Regular Blog. Guess what? October 15 is the mail-by date, not the receive-by date.

I had planned to spend the day with Netflix. The scarf is more than half done, though. Well, barely. I suppose if you count weaving in the ends, a little less than half. Stop that. I'm happy in my delusions. Moreover, I'm inclined to tell you what I'm daydreaming about now.

I want to make this horse from
Dream Toys by Claire Garland.

I have absolutely no reason, not the faintest glimmer of an excuse. My youngest child is 13, well past the stuffed animal stage. I can't think of a niece or nephew I could give this to. More to the point, I'm not sure I want to give him away.

I'm thinking a less pressed-lint looking yarn. Maybe a darker gray with black for the muzzle, mane and hooves. Perhaps with a snazzy green saddle. I have plenty of yarn bits to make the handsome granny-square saddle blanket.

Considering my current near-vertical learning curve, this should provide plenty of blog fodder.

He's gawky and gangly and downright homely.

I love his knobby knees and dopey face. I'm enchanted. Charmed. I think I'll call him art. Also, Art.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Negligent. Derelict. Inattentive. Red Scarves are due in a week.

Slack. Remiss. Irresponsible. Is it my imagination, or is that guy bending an accusatory glare on me? I swear I can hear him, "Get knitting, woman."

Forgetful. Heedless. Mindless. I think I need to tweak the pattern.

Feckless. Slapdash. Forsaking. I foresee a donation to the Red Scarf Foundation for Foster Youth (scroll down the sidebar) in my future.

Unthinking. Unmindful. Lax. Red Scarves are due in a week.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Who Said I'm Avoiding Knitting?

It worked. (ItworkedItworkedItworked!)

I've dampened it with a little wool wash to relax the yarn after it's traumatic undoing and redoing.

This was not quite as easy as that first row made it seem. I ended up gathering the ladders I wasn't using into a coil-less pin to keep myself from knitting with the wrong strand. I used another pin to mark the ladder I would be using next, moving the pins as I worked up.

Then there was the part where I became convinced I had lost one of the M1's on the increase row, undid what I had fixed, added the M1, patted myself on the back and then put it out of my mind. This led to some confusion when I looked at my lovely diagonal line, now without a jog in it, counted my stitches and found I had one more than I should have. This in turn led to frenzied counting and recounting until I put the M1 back in my mind.

No. I did not rip it all out again. I have my limits. I buried a K2tog somewhere on that side. I'm not telling you where. Its very existence will remain our little secret.

It worked.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Value of a Chance Remark

I admit it. I've been avoiding knitting. I'm so sick of having my arse kicked by things I thought I knew how to do. Like count. Yesterday's surprise discovery on the Baby Surprise jacket has been left over the top of a kitchen chair. I spent a little time with a crochet hook, then spent a little time with a crochet hook and a stitch holder, followed by a little (very little) time with the stitch holder, the crochet hook, and the needles. By this morning, all I was trying to do was avoid admitting defeat.

There's this progression, you see. Each decrease is of the sl 1, k2tog, psso variety, in other words, three stitches into one. Which meant that each row I dropped down involved more and more stitches. There's no straightforward hook them back up and go on your way rejoicing.

At the point I'm at, each row is over 120 stitches long. I'm looking at 6 garter ridges. That's 12 rows. Do the math. If I frog, I have to re-knit over 1400 stitches. Let me put this in words of one syllable, just to be absolutely clear: I do not want to frog.

I went back to it this afternoon, after coffee with Diane. She had said, at one point, that she doesn't use a crochet hook for repairs, she knits back up. I said I had tried that. In fact, at the risk of branding myself a complete idiot, I admit I was feeling rather in awe of her apparent ability to keep straight which stitches she was fixing from the rest of the stitches on her needles, all the time managing to not get herself tangled up in the ladders from the dropped stitches. You see, what I was taking for granted was that she knit back up with the same pair of needles that hold the original work, because that was what I had tried to do.

This may be blindingly obvious to you. Looking at that section of raveled stitches just now, it dawned on me that I have more than one pair of size 6 needles. That what I should be doing was substituting a second set of needles for the crochet hook.

That is, use them in addition to the needles that were holding the rest of the jacket. All I have to do then, is knit about 20 stitches according to the pattern, decreasing on one side and knitting even on the other for what now seems like a mere 12 rows.

Caveat Knitter here, I've only done one row this way so far. Then I was compelled to come over here and tell you all about it. Because it worked.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bumbling, Bungling

Misplaced my double decrease.

Result of refusal to frog.

I think it's time to take up an easier hobby. Particle physics comes to mind.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It Takes One To Know One

I don't know that it has ever come up before, but there is a preponderance of men in my life. Not only am I possessed of a husband, I have 2 sons to 1 daughter. Then there are the 4 brothers to 1 sister, but as I'm not likely to knit for any of them, they don't really come into the equation. Still, I am very aware of the lack of knitting patterns that the men who clutter up my life would actually wear.

The latest in a small but sad collection of such knitting patterns is the Knitting Man(ual).

I can't tell you with what breathlessness I awaited it's arrival. Alas, all in vain. There's not a single pattern that won the approval of my personal resident males. On the rejected list? Vests, hooded or otherwise (my husband apparently cherishes less than fond memories of the day when he had to wear three-piece suits). No two-color stranded knitting, even if paired with a solid yoke and sleeves in a completely different color. The boat-neck sweater? Right out. The men in my life have a sense of style that borders on hide-bound.

It was downright unnerving, the amount of hilarity the book produced. Hence, I felt some significant trepidation about producing the other knitting-for-the-members-of-the-male-persuasion book I'd picked up, Rowan's Knitting for Him.

Imagine my relief when, while the book came in for its fair share of for snarky comments, they were limited to aging hippies/hippie wannabes and their need for haircuts, or at least a working familiarity with their hair brushes and razors, accompanied by repeated renderings, vocal and percussive, of that cartoon classic, "Shave and a haircut, two bits." The patterns were almost uniformly approved. Well, except for anything Argyle or lime green.

Interestingly, the sweaters they liked the best?

Were designed by a man.